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May 12, 2020 at 9:44 am · · Comments Off on Construction Businesses: Navigating State and Federal COVID-19 Workplace Safety Requirements

Construction Businesses: Navigating State and Federal COVID-19 Workplace Safety Requirements

On April 28, Governor Mills released Restarting Maine’s Economy, which lays out a plan for re-opening non-essential businesses. Businesses that were previously deemed essential, including construction businesses, may continue operations – the Governor’s new plan does not impact them.

However, as the pandemic evolves, the State is shifting its attention to COVID-19 prevention and workplace safety. In light of this, this is a good time for construction businesses to review their workplace safety protocols to ensure compliance with the latest state and federal guidance on COVID-19 prevention.

Below are the compliance checklists and guidance documents that construction businesses need to follow as they continue operations and begin the summer construction season.

Maine

  • Department of Labor: Guidance for Construction Employers in Maine for Addressing COVID-19. This Department of Labor (DOL) guidance document provides recommendations and suggestions for construction businesses to implement COVID-19 prevention measures, including those in the DECD checklist. This DOL guidance includes, and overlaps with, much of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations for COVID-19, discussed below.

Federal

  • OSHA General Guidance: Preparing the Workplace for COVID-19. This comprehensive general guidance document covers OSHA recommendations for COVID-19 prevention for all business types.
  • This document classifies all job types for risk of COVID-19 infection. Most construction workers will fall under the low-risk category. OSHA has provided a useful one-page reference guide to understand worker classifications.  Construction businesses are expected to review the classifications and implement risk-appropriate controls and prevention measures.
  • OSHA Construction Business Guidance: COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce. This one-page guidance document provides an overview of the prevention controls and measures that all construction businesses need to implement based on the general guidance above.

To ensure full compliance, construction businesses are advised to refer to all four sets of guidance.  While there are overlaps among them, each one of them contains information that pertains to reducing workers’ risks of contracting COVID-19 on the worksite.

May 5, 2020 at 7:02 am · · Comments Off on Legislative Update from Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA)

Legislative Update from Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA)

While much has changed in the world in the past months, the MEREDA Public Policy Committee has continued to stay engaged on critical matters impacting our members. From ensuring a last-minute enactment of an extension to the Maine Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (MHRTC), to advocacy before the Governor’s office on state action related to COVID-19, the past few weeks have been active.

Before COVID-19 upended our lives, the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature was set to adjourn on April 15, 2020. However, as confirmed US cases began to rise in early March, the Legislature moved to adjourn on March 17, 2020. The early adjournment forced the Legislature to carry-over hundreds of bills to a future special session. Fortunately, working diligently with the Governor’s Office and Maine Revenue Services, MEREDA and the MHRTC Coalition were able to ensure passage of a two-year extension of the MHRTC. The extension also ensures that projects can continue construction and claim the credit past the sunset date, so long as they’ve been certified. The MHRTC extension was enacted in LD 2047, which became Public Law 2019, Chapter 659 on March 18, 2020. It will take effect on June 16, 2020.

Though there has been no legislation action since adjournment, the Governor’s Office and her administration have issued a number of orders related to COVID-19 that have significantly impacted Maine businesses, including MEREDA. To represent its members’ interests in some of these crucial policy decisions, MEREDA engaged directly with the Governor’s administration on ensuring the role of commercial real estate as an essential business, the need for flexibility in notarization requirements, and limitations on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More specifically on rent and evictions, on April 14, 2020, MEREDA sent a letter to Governor Mills regarding her decision to impose limitations on eviction actions on both residential and commercial landlords. MEREDA encouraged the Governor not to take overbroad action, and emphasized that most commercial real estate landlords in Maine are small businesses who must also maintain a positive cash flow to meet financial obligations. Ultimately, the Governor placed a moratorium on evictions arising solely from failure to pay rent while continuing to allow evictions in cases of tenant misuse or misbehavior. MEREDA recently hosted a webinar on real estate issues during COVID-19, including discussion of the Governor’s order on eviction limitations. We will continue to stay engaged on this issue as it evolves and affects commercial real estate landlords, and will continue to responsibly advocate for our members as other issues arise in this rapidly changing environment.

While much has occurred in the past weeks, there is even more to be done as Maine considers reopening the economy. On April 28, 2020, Governor Mills released a four-phase plan to slowly restart the economy, with the first phase starting on May 1 and enabling some businesses to reopen. The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will be posting checklist for businesses to follow in determining steps to secure their workplace for COVID-19 safety – check the DECD website for more news soon. The Governor’s complete plan for reopening the economy can be found here. In short, decisions about re-opening the economy in the phased plan will be based on the following four principles:

  • Protecting Public Health;
  • Maintaining Health Care Readiness;
  • Building Reliable and Accessible Testing; and
  • Prioritizing Public-Public Collaboration.

Even as businesses start to reopen under the phased plan, the state government must turn to facing the realities of the economic downfall on the state budget – which are likely to be dramatic and far-reaching. To help lawmakers understand just how much the budget is likely to be affected, Governor Mills has called upon the State’s economic forecasting officials to meet in July and August (instead of November and December), to examine the economic ramifications of the pandemic on Maine’s revenues. The Governor is likely to call legislators for a special session to address the anticipated budget shortfalls, but she may wait until after the July economic forecast to enable decision-making based on the new information about the state’s fiscal health.

MEREDA will continue to remain diligent in protecting its members’ interests as the state looks to reopen and the legislature looks for ways to address the anticipated revenue shortfall caused by this current pause in our state’s economic activity. Our members represent a critical pillar of the state economy, and we will continue to advocate for policies that are fair, practical, and predictable even as we navigate a new, post COVID-19 environment.

April 21, 2020 at 6:45 am · · Comments Off on Pandemic Leaves Landlords in a Difficult Position

Pandemic Leaves Landlords in a Difficult Position

by: Gary D. Vogel, Attorney, Drummond Woodsum, MEREDA President

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone.  Many businesses are shut down, or are minimally operating.  The CARES Act recently adopted by Congress with over two trillion dollars of emergency funding will provide a lifeline for many businesses.   Especially important is the SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans that provide forgivable loans for an amount of up to 8 weeks payroll for qualifying businesses.   The program has proven so popular that as of April 16th, applications for the entire $349 Billion of PPP funding have been made and the SBA announced that it would not accept any more applications, unless Congress approves additional funding.    While the PPP loan program is enabling many business to survive, and to pay their staff, for many companies the PPP isn’t a good fit, because their business is too big, may not have enough payroll, compared to other essential expenses or may need more than 8 weeks of payroll covered in order for them to survive.

Left out of the discussion at Congress is the impact the shutdown is having on landlords.   MEREDA members include many residential and commercial landlords, and MEREDA has both heard from and reached out to members to be able to understand what is happening to landlords in this pandemic.    Property owners are businesses that are frankly essential to our economy, providing the real estate for businesses to operate.  Most property owners will not qualify for PPP loans, since they tend to not have employees, or if they do, the payroll cost is a very small percentage of their operating expense, when compared to taxes, mortgage payments, utility charges, insurance and the like.   The impact of the PPP loans and the ability of businesses receiving those loans to keep employees paid, as well as the impact of enhanced unemployment benefits for unemployed workers has enabled most residential tenants to pay their rent, and residential landlords in Maine in an informal survey report receiving 80 to 90% of April rent.   Commercial landlords report lesser amounts of April rent payments.   In addition, on April 16, Governor Mills issued an executive order prohibiting or limiting evictions for a period extending until 30 days after the expiration of the Covid-19 State of Emergency.     While few if any landlords will want to be evicting tenants who cannot pay rent due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus, many landlords are concerned that the prohibition on evictions may be viewed by tenants as a basis for not paying rent.    While the Governor’s executive order makes it clear that the order does not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent while the tenant continues to occupy the real estate, it does not address what constitutes “occupation of the real estate” in this circumstance and leaves several questions unanswered.

What should landlords be doing when faced with nonpayment of rent by tenants?  

  1. First and foremost, landlords should talk to their tenants to find out what tenants can do and what relief tenants need so that the landlord can understand what rent payments they can expect during this period.  Every situation is somewhat different, and there is typically no “one size fits all” solution.   Tenants need to understand that the rent obligation doesn’t go away just because they are unable to operate, unless the lease so provides, and that is highly unusual.   Tenants also need to understand that the rent obligation doesn’t go away during the period of time that evictions are limited.     Landlords have fixed expenses that don’t stop just because a business is temporarily closed.   If a tenant says that they are giving up and going out of business that is very different from a tenant who is just trying to weather the storm and to reopen when they are able.   If a tenant is going to close up for good, the Landlord should get the tenant to surrender the space back to the landlord, so that the landlord does not need to evict the tenant to be able to have the space available to rent to others.  This is especially important while the courts are closed to evictions.
  1. Landlords should find out what federal resources the tenants have been able to obtain, and whether the tenants plan on using some of those funds to pay rent.   Under the PPP, businesses can use 25% of the funds to pay rent, utilities, debt service payments and some other expenses while still having 100% of the loan remain forgivable.   For tenants that have not applied for PPP loans, the tenants should be alerted to do so if and when more funding is available.
  1. Once the Landlord understands the shortfalls in rent payments that the tenant anticipates, the landlord should talk to its lenders and explain the situation that the landlord is in.   Some landlords may have enough tenants who are paying rent to enable them to pay their mortgages; others may not.   Lenders understand what is happening and will work with borrowers.    Lenders will Lenders need current information in order to help.  That is part of the reason why getting good information from tenants is important.
  1. If necessary, Landlords can also apply for Loans using the SBA or FAME loan programs.    These loans are not forgivable, and landlords will not want to take on additional debt to provide support to their tenants, but for some there may be no other options.
  1. If Landlords know that Tenants will be unable to pay rent for the duration of a shutdown, the landlord may want to enter into a lease amendment with the tenant to provide when the unpaid rent will be due, which may have the unpaid rent payable over a period of months together with the rent due for those months.  For example, the deferred rent could be repayable 1/12 each month for a period of 12 Months once the shutdown ends, or 30 days after the shutdown ends, with the current rent for that month.  It is better to have an enforceable agreement that everyone can live with, rather than just leaving unpaid rent with a tenant in default.  This is better for the landlord, and it is also better for the tenant, so that the tenant can have an arrangement that is workable from a cash flow perspective.

In summary, landlords are placed in a difficult situation as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.   While more PPP funding may be available to tenants who may be able to use those funds to pay rent, the ability and willingness of tenants to use these funds for rent payments may vary widely, and landlords may not see a great deal of relief, directly or indirectly, from the CARES Act or from future federal relief.    Landlords need to work proactively with tenants and lenders to make sure that they can weather the storm.  If the coronavirus causes the real estate market to suffer greatly, that will only make recovery more difficult for everyone, including property owners.

Join MEREDA for a Virtual Event focusing on this topic on Friday, April 24, 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM.  The event is FREE of Charge, but registration is required.  For more information visit our Events Page at www.mereda.org. 

April 16, 2020 at 11:35 am · · Comments Off on Governor Mills issues Executive Order lifting in–person requirements for certain notarial acts and acknowledgements

Governor Mills issues Executive Order lifting in–person requirements for certain notarial acts and acknowledgements

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Governor Mills issued Executive Order 37 (EO 37), An Order Temporarily Modifying Certain In-Person Notarizations and Acknowledgement Requirements. This order relaxes certain legal requirements that may make it easier for MEREDA members to execute and close deals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, EO 37 suspends the requirement that a person whose oath is being taken and the notary and any witnesses be physically present at the same location with some exceptions. This change is intended to enable notaries and witnesses to perform services over video conference by establishing a number of requirements which must be satisfied to result in a valid notarization. EO 37 also authorizes the Secretary of State to issue additional guidance, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.

The following is an overview of some key requirements and exceptions in the Order. There are additional specific requirements in the Order and we strongly recommend members review all requirements carefully or speak with an attorney to ensure compliance.

Requirement Highlights

Some of the requirements include that:

  • The signatory, the notary and any witnesses must be physically present in Maine when performing the notarial act;
  • The notarization must allow for direct contemporaneous interaction between the parties via two-way audio-video communication technology;
  • The signatory must initial each page of the document and send an electronic image of each page as well as the hard copy of the document to the witness or to the notary, if no witness was required;
  • The witnesses and notary have to meet certain timeframes to complete the notarization, which will be deemed to have occurred on the date of the contemporaneous interaction; and
  • A recording of the contemporaneous interaction must be preserved for 5 years.

EO 37 will ensure that documents notarized “in the presence and hearing” of a signatory, in compliance with this order will be deemed to have been notarized in the presence and hearing of the signatory.

The order also provides that notarization will not be deemed invalid or impaired if one of these conditions is not met, so long as the notarization was performed in substantial compliance with the order.

EXCEPTIONS

EO 37 does not apply to the following notarial acts:

  • Solemnizing marriages;
  • Administering oaths to circulators of state or local direct initiative or referendum petitions and nomination petitions of candidates for electoral office; or
  • Absentee ballots in state and local elections.

EO 37 does not change any other requirements under Maine law pertaining to the taking of sworn statements and acknowledgements.  Unless it is sooner amended or rescinded, this order will expire 30 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency terminates – in a proclamation issued April 14, Governor Mills extended the state of emergency to May 15, 2020.

April 14, 2020 at 6:11 am · · Comments Off on Maine Home Prices – Where do we go from here?

Maine Home Prices – Where do we go from here?

by: Dava Davin, Principal, Portside Real Estate Group

When I presented at the 2020 MEREDA Real Estate Forecast Conference in January, I was full of good news and positivity in the residential market. I shared that 2019 represented the eighth straight year of rising home prices in Maine resulting in a record-breaking year with the median price for a single-family home topping out at $225,000. In 2019 prices rose 5.4% in Southern Maine. The highest home prices in Maine’s history!

I predicted that prices would continue to rise in 2020 at a rate of 3%-5%. I also forecasted that this spring we would see buyers battling for homes and houses selling for over the list price as a result of multiple offers. The low inventory would make home buying for first time home buyers and folks looking in the median home price range (around $300,000 and below in Southern Maine) very competitive. I spoke about the election having little effect on Maine’s real estate market. I thought we might see more price reductions this year as sellers attempt to test the market, and that overall, 2020 was poised to be another great year for sellers as well as buyers with low mortgage rates giving buyers more buying power!

And then…the world was flipped upside down in what felt like an instant as Covid-19 crept into every aspect of our lives. The Southern Maine real estate market has been, and will continue to be, adversely affected for the near future. My forecast has changed but this time I don’t have data and trends to back up the shift caused by something of this nature and magnitude.

Here is my take…

As of today, April 8th, for the most part we are seeing a real estate “pause’’. We will experience a temporary slowdown as people practice social distancing protocol and wait to see if their job situation changes over the next few weeks. This will most likely create pent up demand for when the crisis ends. People may wait now, but the need won’t go away. People will take action when things return to normal. What will help Maine’s real estate market is the trend of stock market volatility leading people to invest in real estate as they diversify their portfolios. We will also see new reasons for Mainers to list their homes and search for new ones as feelings toward their home may change (weeks of sheltering in place) and desires for home offices, home gyms, and more or less space. We are also expecting to see in-migration to Maine from more densely populated areas.

Sadly, we will also see temporary and permanent job loss or job shifts causing Mainers to list their homes. Maine has seen a tremendous amount of job losses very quickly and it could get worse, but once the crisis is over many jobs will be restored. Nationally, economists are projecting the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% percent by the fourth quarter of 2021. A quicker turnaround than we have seen with other financial crises.  This should benefit the housing market rebound.  We have had more buyers than sellers in Maine for several years, so this shift may create a balance in the market that has been overdue.

For cities like New York, new real estate transactions have come to a screeching halt.  In southern Maine, real estate professionals are placing all of their virtual strategies into extra high gear, in order to prevent that from happening. Real estate is deemed an essential business in Maine with most aspects able to be done virtually – negotiating, signing of contracts, video tours, etc. The showings, closings and inspections are being done with strict guidelines for safety. We have seen a significant slowdown but new properties are still hitting the market and some are still selling quickly and in multiple offers.

We are entering what is typically the busiest season for real estate, that usually lasts through the end of the summer. I am confident that the busy season will extend through the fall, and possibly through the winter.

Momentum is building: once the stay at home mandate is lifted and our world begins to shift back into normalcy, the demand will be strong. We are bracing for a tough Q2, with an improving Q3, and ending the year with a strong Q4.

April 2, 2020 at 11:49 am · · Comments Off on MEREDA’s 2020 Spring Real Estate Conference has been Rescheduled to September 3rd

MEREDA’s 2020 Spring Real Estate Conference has been Rescheduled to September 3rd

The Chamberlain Model – Developing Maine’s Future:  Then and Now

In light of the situation with the Coronavirus, MEREDA has rescheduled its Annual Spring Conference that was scheduled for May 21.     The new date is September 3.

In celebration of Maine’s Bicentennial this year, the Conference will look at Joshua Chamberlain’s historical model of the Maine Economy, and how it informs Maine’s economic future.

Click Here for More Details

March 24, 2020 at 7:17 am · · Comments Off on Vital Ideas – The 1031 Dominoes

Vital Ideas – The 1031 Dominoes

by Brit Vitalius, Principal, Designated Broker, Vitalius Real Estate Group

In 2019, we saw 1031 exchanges used even more frequently than in past years. Interestingly, the variations in the transactions illustrate a number of different ways the 1031 exchange can be used to accommodate different investment transitions. The following is an example of a domino of 1031 exchanges we strung together for clients recently.

3 unit to 3 unit – A divorced couple decided to sell the jointly-held 3 unit. The husband wanted to stay invested in property, so he took his portion of the sale proceeds and purchased another 3 unit.

3 unit to 6 unit – The seller of the second 3 unit wanted to expand his portfolio and was willing to sell his 3 unit in order to do so. In addition, we helped negotiate his sale contract with an extended closing date in order to give him more runway to find a replacement. We eventually located an off-market 6 unit which he purchased.

6 unit to a new project – The seller of that 6 unit is now looking for a project. He had renovated the 6 unit, and there wasn’t much left to do other than hold it. Being a more active investor, he is looking for opportunities to find either a) something larger or b) a project that could be renovated, converted, etc. Incidentally, this property had been the 1031 exchange years ago so this investor will be highly motivated to find a replacement as he is 2 or 3 transactions deep in deferrals.

Remember, a 1031 exchange is a powerful tool, but it is only a deferral of the taxes owed. Consult with an experienced real estate broker and a Qualified Intermediary (QI) before performing one. Make sure you set up the exchange with the QI BEFORE the sale of your property. Once the transaction closes, it is too late.

February 3, 2020 at 8:00 am · · Comments Off on Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects Matt Worthen to its Board of Directors

Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects Matt Worthen to its Board of Directors

Matthew Worthen of Falmouth, has been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

A shareholder at the law firm Eaton Peabody, Matt is a member in the firm’s Business Practice Group and chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group.  Matt represents institutional lenders, as well as business in a variety of commercial and real estate transactions and law issues, including financing, development, and leasing. In addition to large and mid-sized businesses, Matt works with family-owned and small businesses in Maine, providing them the best representation in all aspects of legal matters. From formation, expansion, leasing, purchase, and sale, Matt’s commitment to his clients’ best interests has served him extremely well in his twenty-year career.

An active member of MEREDA, Matt serves on its Conference Committee and most recently took a leading role helping develop the program for its annual Spring Conference held last May, which fostered a thought-provoking discussion around the future of housing in Maine. The outcome was a fantastic agenda and speaker panel, in which Matt also participated as one of the program’s moderators.

MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “We are excited to begin working with Matt at the Board level, and look forward to his help in the future to craft more cutting-edge conferences!”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801

January 29, 2020 at 11:51 am · · Comments Off on Join MEREDA for Breakfast on Feb. 25 for a Morning Menu Presentation: “Portland’s Arts District Garage: A Case Study of Private Parking Structure Development”

Join MEREDA for Breakfast on Feb. 25 for a Morning Menu Presentation: “Portland’s Arts District Garage: A Case Study of Private Parking Structure Development”

The five-story, 280-spaced Arts District Garage parking structure on the corner of Brown Street and Cumberland Ave was completed in the summer of 2019. The Arts District Garage project provides lasting new value and utility to the adjacent 10-story office tower at 511 Congress Street, frees up over 150 off-site parking spaces elsewhere in the City, and opens new opportunities to develop potentially hundreds of new residential units in the neighborhood.

Join us for a MEREDA breakfast where garage owner Ed Gardner will discuss considerations leading to the genesis of the project and the operating experience thus far. Project Architect Travis Nadeau of Platz Associates will explain the project’s unique exposed architectural steel design and the permitting process. Developer Ethan Boxer-Macomber of Anew Development will discuss some of the unique financial, public review, and construction administration challenges presented by the project.

Join MEREDA for breakfast on February 25 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at the Holiday Inn By the Bay to learn more about this exciting new project and the some of the unique facets of private parking structure development.

About the Event:

MEREDA’s Morning Menu – Portland’s Arts District Garage: A Case Study of Private Parking Structure Development

Holiday Inn by the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME

Breakfast: 7:30 – 8:00 AM
Program: 8:00 – 9:00 AM

About the Panelists:

Ed Gardner’s first business investment was a 12-unit apartment building, purchased at the age of 17. From there, he acquired 2 convenience stores. In 1995, Ed bought his first in-town investment, the Portland Performing Arts Center, home of Portland Stage Company. At 54, he celebrated the purchase of property #50 and his largest real estate acquisition, 511 Congress Street Plaza. Owner of Gardner Real Estate Group, Ed is a consistent Top Producing real estate broker in Greater Portland. He was awarded Maine’s REALTOR of the Year, is past presidents of both the Maine Association of REALTORS and the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS. He is the current president of Greater Portland Landmarks and a founder and board member of Portland Equality Community Center.

Travis Nadeau brings over seventeen years of experience in a wide range of municipal, residential, civic, religious, and retail projects, from 70-unit apartment buildings to 175,000 square foot retail entertainment centers. His resume includes the design coordination of six historic tax credit projects, and winners of two Maine Preservation Awards, with the 49-unit Lofts at Bates Mill and the Business Service Center, the adaptive reuse of Maine’s first indoor automobile dealership in downtown Lewiston, Maine. Focused on client satisfaction and effective communication, the design of parking garages has been a specialty for Travis, with projects including a 380-vehicle garage in Lewiston, a 730-vehicle parking structure for the Thompson’s Point mixed-use development in Portland, Maine, and a 523-vehicle parking component of a mixed-use development in historic Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Ethan Boxer-Macomber is principal of Anew Development, a Portland-based real estate development company that he founded in 2013. Anew Development partners with for-profit companies and non-profit organizations to plan and implement high quality, sustainable, and community focused residential, commercial and mixed-use developments in communities across Southern Maine. Ethan pairs his training and experience in the areas of real estate development, urban design, land use planning, and housing and community development with a creative, collaborative, and community-minded approach to achieve highest value project outcomes.

 

Registering for this Event: Click Here to Register Now

MEREDA Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 Each
Prices Increase by $10 after February 18.

Your RSVP is requested by February 18. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers but fails to attend or who cancels after February 18.

Click Here to Register Now

January 28, 2020 at 7:10 am · · Comments Off on Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) Recognizes Outstanding Members with Annual Awards

Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) Recognizes Outstanding Members with Annual Awards

Portland, ME: In a ballroom overflowing with the broad spectrum of Maine’s real estate and development professionals, MEREDA President Gary Vogel singled out five individuals at last week’s annual Forecast Conference. If tasked with building a structure, this quintet certainly would be qualified to do so: an architect, an interiors expert, a City planner, a lawyer and an artisan took the stage. Instead of an assignment, Vogel handed out MEREDA’s Annual Awards to this group responsible for significant and lasting contribution of responsible real estate development in Maine in 2019.

Brian Curley, President of CHA Architecture, received the 2019 Robert B. Patterson, Jr. Founders’ Award, recognizing his distinguished contributions and support of MEREDA as a highly effective volunteer, providing significant leadership and guidance. An active and enthusiastic member of MEREDA’s Board of Directors from 2011 to 2019, Curley served as vice president for four of those years; he also served on the Executive and Conference Committees.

MEREDA awarded this year’s President’s Award to Bruce Jones, recently retired from Creative Office Pavilion, and the MEREDA Board in December of 2019. MEREDA relies heavily on its volunteer board and committee members, and Vogel singled out Jones as an exceptionally dedicated volunteer who contributed with energy on every level. Since joining MEREDA in 2010, Bruce served on the Board of Directors for seven years, as the Vice President for four years, co-chaired the Conference Committee, and served on the Executive Committee.

Each year, MEREDA presents the Public Policy award to an individual whose efforts have had a considerable impact on public policy changes to benefit responsible real estate development in Maine. Jeff Levine, Adjunct Faculty at the Muskie School and MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, took home the 2019 Public Policy award. From his willingness to present at numerous MEREDA events, to his passionate and diligent work on the behalf of the City of Portland, this award is certainly well-deserved.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is given by MEREDA’s current President to those who selflessly and tirelessly give their time, talents, and energy to MEREDA and its efforts. In recognition of their invaluable work on MEREDA’s 2019 Spring Conference, Shannon Richards of Hay Runner and Matt Worthen of Eaton Peabody shared this year’s Award. Shannon and Matt spearheaded the development of the 2019 Spring Conference, which fostered a thought-provoking discussion around the future of housing in Maine. The duo also served as the program’s moderators.

MEREDA congratulates these five outstanding members, and thanks every volunteer whose contributions of time and talent make the association’s continued success possible.

Gary Vogel, MEREDA President, Jeff Levine, Adjunct Faculty at the Muskie School and MIT, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Shelly R. Clark, MEREDA Vice President of Operations, Matt Worthen, Eaton Peabody, Shannon Richards, Hay Runner, Bruce Jones, recently retired from Creative Office Pavilion, and Brian Curley, CHA Architecture.